Fish Kill Flea

My co-directorial feature debut, FISH KILL FLEA, premiered at the South By Southwest film festival in 2007 and has gone on to exhibit and screen at film festivals around the world. The accompanying photographic series was concurrently shot in the winter of 2005.

In the small New York town of Fishkill, the Dutchess shopping mall had been an epicenter of both commerce and community in the 1970's. But as the laws of American capitalism perpetuate, however, newer retail stores and shinier malls were bound to steal its crowds and render it obsolete without much fanfare. After the Dutchess closed for business two decades later, the flea market began operating in and outside of what we now saw as a gigantic skeleton, just one of the many dilapidated eyesores that litter the country like a graveyard.

We originally began shooting Fish Kill Flea to sustain the memory of the flea market and the unusual neighborhood it had reinvented out of dead space. We learned that the mall was going to be demolished to make room for yet another corporate home-improvement store, the third of its franchise within 12 miles. The vendors and customers were inevitably going to scatter and that particular subculture erased forever, which to us was a fascinating paradox: the flea market would expire, but it never could have existed if the mall hadn't died first. Furthermore, it's a sad fact of life that this cannibalistic cycle is destined to repeat itself forever.

So what's worth preserving? What defines a landmark? And who earns the right to answer these questions? Considering the joys, amenities and special moments the mall once offered, is it all that strange to eulogize "the great palace of commerce?"